The Arab sources of Spinoza’s thought (led by Dr Laurence Renault)

Project summary

The project aims at highlighting the role of the medieval Arabic thought (Kalam and Falsafa) in the genesis of Spinoza’s thought, one of the main thinkers of the early modern era (1632-1675). Very few and limited studies have been devoted so far to this topic, however almost all Spinoza’s writings bear the mark of an implicit dialogue with medieval Arabic thinkers regarding all the main issues addressed by Spinoza: Metaphysics, Theory of Knowledge, Ethics, Politics and Philosophy of religion.
This enquiry requires a large set of skills that exceeds the capability of a single researcher. This is the reason why it is meant to be group work, that will be achieved through a preparatory seminar (3-session Seminar) and a 3-day Colloquium taking place alternatively in Paris and Abu Dhabi campuses. (2020-2021). The publication of the proceedings will follow.
The group gathers 16 renowned specialists highly qualified in the following fields:

  • Ancient Greek philosophy (that lies at the heart of the constitution of medieval Arabic thought),
  • Medieval Arabic thought,
  • Latin medieval thought (deeply influenced by Arabic thinkers of the middle-age),
  • Early modern philosophy

The project intends to explore how a cross-cultural dialogue is nurturing the development of human thought and how medieval Arab thought comes into play in the early constitution of western modern thought.

Project dates



Sorbonne University (Paris)